Asda Introduces Indian Fashion Line

Sep 16, 2009

By George

Wal-Mart’s Asda division in the U.K., identifing a demand
for affordable Indian fashions, has announced it
is rolling out a line under its George label in 21 stores.

Asda Fashions
Source: Asda Direct website

The chain points to internal research that found 63 percent
of Asda’s ethnic customers were looking for authentic, yet affordable,
fashions. Interestingly, Asda believes the new line will also appeal to

"We are extremely proud to be launching the UK’s first mainstream
range of traditional Asian clothing." said Fiona Lambert, brand director
at George, in a press release. "We have the broadest socio demographic
group of all the supermarkets and we wanted to offer affordable clothing
suitable for all our customers.”

Parent Wal-Mart points to its success selling Bollywood-inspired
clothing in Canada as a sign that the new George line will appeal to Asian
consumers and others, as well.

"We were blown away by the attention brought on by the launch
of our range of South Asian influenced clothing – from industry watchers,
to media, to our ethnic customers. Strong sales aside, the buzz and goodwill
that continues to surround the line has been absolutely remarkable." said
Kevin Groh, corporate affairs director, Wal-Mart Canada.

Discussion Questions:
Will we see Wal-Mart stores or other mainstream fashion retailers introduce
authentic Indian cultural clothing to the U.S. market? Will these items
find a market with non-Asians in much the same manner as food?

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7 Comments on "Asda Introduces Indian Fashion Line"

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Bill Robinson
Bill Robinson
11 years 8 months ago

Retailers always talk about location as their secret sauce. Yet for the most part they fail to exploit the preferences and anomalies in their local market. Walmart’s ASDA is doing the obvious. Three cheers for them.

I have often sat in meetings at retailers headquarters, three deep with merchants. The prevailing wisdom is that their way of responding to local tastes is through replenishment. They are assuming of course that their assortment is worth replenishing. Much more insight would be gained if they correlated the stores with the lowest conversion rates with their local ethnic, demographic, and lifestyle mix. My guess is that outliers on both would reveal assortment problems.

The primary of job of the retailer is to serve the needs of their customers. Local needs reflect the makeup of the local population. Good job, ASDA.

Doron Levy
Doron Levy
11 years 8 months ago

Retailers that cater to the local marketplace have what I call ‘Merchant Mentality’. And that’s how you differentiate yourself from the competition. I’m not a big fan of Walmart but kudos to the UK side for expanding their lines. Will we see it here in North America? I can tell you that it would be a hard sell in the Toronto area. There are so many specialty shops catering to every different kind of culture that Walmart would have to dedicate half the store to compete with the smaller guys.

Gene Detroyer
11 years 8 months ago
Let’s not confuse fashion trends with smart retailing. ASDA is introducing the Indian clothing into 21 of their stores, not all of their stores. Without looking at any studies, I can certainly tell you that the trading area around these stores has a very high ethnic Indian concentration. The previous comments by Bill and Doron are exactly correct. The consolidation we have seen in retailers has produced a national framework of marketing at the expense of being sensitive to local customer needs. This again is a very smart move by Wal-Mart (ASDA). They establish a competitive advantage by providing what the local customer needs and do it with a product line that they don’t have to cut their margins to promote. This decision is not a whole lot different than opening Mercados in Texas. It is particularly interesting that there are even discussions that come out of these customer-centric decisions. Isn’t that the way all retailers should be operating? The fact that most national retailers are everything but customer centric makes these discussions worthwhile.
Doug Stephens
Doug Stephens
11 years 8 months ago
The answer lies almost purely in demographics and immigration. Canada is a good example, where the foreign born population is currently growing at a rate four times that of the domestic population. The majority of that immigration is coming from Asia and South Asia. 70% of new Canadians move directly to 4 of the largest cities Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal–the heartland of retail distribution. The retail response up until now has largely been driven by small to mid-sized ethnic retailers who have stepped up to serve the needs of these communities. However, Loblaw Company’s purchase last month of Asian T&T markets was a clear indication that big players recognize the significance of this market. In the US, Asian and South Asian immigration is also a force, albeit a fraction of Hispanic immigration. Nonetheless, retailers will have to adapt to the needs of these consumers. If you’re going to grow, you better understand and appeal to ethnic markets. Will North Americans begin wearing Asian and Indian inspired clothing? I think we are and will continue… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
11 years 8 months ago

When will this come to the States???

George Anderson
11 years 8 months ago

To our surprise, an informal survey of two non-Indians here found that one adult and one teen would definitely consider wearing items similar to those displayed on the Asda site. Both said they were unlikely to purchase them from Wal-Mart, however, preferring to go to authentic Indian fashion stores in the nearby Edison, Iselin and Woodbridge, NJ areas that have a large number of businesses catering to people from India and Pakistan.

Carol Spieckerman
11 years 8 months ago

Walmart launched its “Bollywood” line in Vancouver and Toronto which featured nine different styles of traditional Indian suits, all priced at less than $80. This is really just localizing assortments in apparel so it would make perfect sense to add traditional clothing to demographically appropriate locations in the U.S. … Maybe even chain-wide. As dull as fashion has been lately, perhaps these options would resonate with other shoppers as well.


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